Monday, December 22, 2014

USS Alabama

As we neared Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama, we saw this ship a short distance away and knew that we wanted to see more.
USS Alabama
It turns out that we are camped about 4 miles away from the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, which houses not only its namesake battleship but also a WWII ere submarine and dozens of aircraft.

As we entered the park we saw a wide variety of planes, ranging from an enormous B-52 bomber to this Coast Guard Seaplane.

This propeller, one of four that drives the battleship, gave a great idea of the size of the ship we were about to explore.
USS Alabama Propeller
The USS Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and saw significant action during WWII, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The ship is 680 feet long, 108 feet wide, and normally had a crew of about 2500 men aboard. 

We've toured a couple of these WWII era warships and are always struck by how compact and utilitarian the interior is. Little room was set aside for berthing, especially for the enlisted sailors.

Enlisted Sailors Berth
This berthing area for enlisted men has probably 200 of these tiny little bunks. And the men took turns sleeping in them, so they didn't even have their own bed!!
Teri Sitting on Bunk
We decided that I was unlikely to fit, so Teri did the honors. Remember she is all of 5'-1" tall.

So Comfortable!!
Most of the room on the battleship was devoted to propulsion and guns. The USS Alabama sported nine, 16" main guns, and dozens of smaller guns. Check out our new header picture for an idea of the main gun's size. The projectile for those guns was huge!
16" Shell
We were surprised to see a large room of computers that were the fire-control system for the guns. They accounted for the speed and direction of the battleship, the rolling and heaving of the ship on the open seas, the distance to the target as well as the speed and direction of the target. Pretty sophisticated for the mid 1940's.
Targeting Computer for Main Guns
Once we finished exploring the battleship, we walked over to the much smaller USS Drum. This submarine was commissioned in 1941 and went to sea with a crew of 72 men. She made 13 patrols in the Pacific during WWII.
USS Drum
While we thought that the battleship was tight, this submarine was much more compact. It is hard to imagine spending months aboard such a small ship. 
Torpedo Room
It's hard to get inside pictures in the sub because it was so narrow, but here is a picture of the aft torpedo room. In addition to the four torpedo tubes, they stored ten torpedos in this space, and the mens berths hung from the walls!!

It is great to see this history being preserved and displayed. 



  1. Men (and women) these days are taller and bulkier than back then... most wouldn't even begin to fit in those bunks. Looks like a good tour....

  2. Hope you didn't get that nasty weather. Praying you are both safe.

    1. Thanks for thinking about us. We drove all day in the rain yesterday and it has absolutely poured since we arrived near Tallahassee, FL. Make it stop!!